A few days ago, I was in Tampa for the Florida Audio Expo which showcases companies that are demonstrating their products, often in collaboration with other companies to make a complete (stereo) system to showcase to the public. There were not many home theater systems showcased there, unfortunately, although that wasn’t a bad thing in general. I was not surprised to see a demographic of an older category, which I already expected, because we young’uns don’t always have the opportunity to spend money on audio, what I feel is, the luxury of quality audio. I appreciate that I am privileged enough to be able to dive into this topic, but that in itself is a side to my true interests in tech and quality in general. This so happens to be something that taps into the more qualitative side of things rather than the quantitative, which I like. It brings the two together for an interesting mix to a certain extent. How successful they are, is a different matter in itself, which is something that may be difficult without experience and knowledge.
Overall, reflecting on my experience of going to my first audio expo, is interesting in general, but what I realized unfortunately in this specific expo is that almost everything these companies were showcasing were well out of my reach. Not that they aren’t good, but there might have been a few factors that affected this result. Considering that this is the first Florida Audio Expo, these companies are more testing the waters here in Florida than being daring or extravagant with their products, and are very general with their demographic, which is geared towards audiophiles that are very enthusiastic, with a generally high budget, and that implies an older demographic as well, because they are the ones that working and have accumulated a larger amount of budget they can allocate to their audio enthusiasm. However, that is not to say everything is geared towards that demographic. That is a large part of the demographic, but because of that, I sense some positive signs this industry.
On to my actual experience. I found that the crowd was a lot more than what the venues maybe were set-up for. Then again, I went on a Saturday, an opportune time for a lot of people. They held the expo in a hotel throughout 7 floors, and that means occupying actual hotel rooms to demo their products for the public. In some cases, these rooms contained people up until the door because of their popularity, and that prevented me from getting a good listen at some of these systems. That didn’t deter me though, because I was determined to experience the most out of this Expo. Overall, these companies presented differing ideas to get to the same goal: the best sound they can get out of their products, be it electronics for the speakers of the speakers themselves. Tube amplifiers (although I do not prefer them for my own reasons) were seen throughout the show, and they seem to be the preferred method of high fidelity amplification. In general traditional woofer type speakers were mostly seen, although there are companies that presented different types of woofers and extremes went from electrostatic speakers to omnipotent speakers presented at the Expo.
Sound quality-wise, I thought the quality was superb in general, with exceptions. There were a few booths that I can tell where their strengths are, such as having a very emotional and expressive set-up but may not be as accurate as this insanely expensive set-up of the entire show, and others that seem to also prioritize looks along with the audio quality, and others are the amazingly accurate down to a single staccato of the orchestra. It was an interesting experience that actually brought my interest how good even vinyl can sound when done right along with streaming. There were a few rooms that came down to the song choice that I listened to at the time of coming in, that determined what I knew about it, so it was a shame I couldn’t listen to some of them in the songs I would have liked to listen to, because some of the songs can put me to sleep. It didn’t allow me to know the realized potential of such a system, and not to mention it wasn’t a pleasant experience because it was a bit of a bore. If I stayed a day or two more, I would have known more, but if done right everywhere, a day in this specific Expo is enough to cover every room to have enough time to go back to one or two, which redeemed some of the rooms I visited to be honest.
I would most definitely come to another audio expo, but I would like to see more of a variety though, because I didn’t see much regarding headphones, and would have liked to see a larger price-point diversity as well for people of all budgets.
For the official coverage of the Florida Audio Expo that I did, click here to read my press with Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.